The Format Wars May Be Over

It looks like Blu-Ray will soon defeat HD-DVD

Fans of Toshiba's HD DVD format have been kicked while they're down, this time by Wal-Mart's decision to ditch the format,
and sell Blu-ray players and media exclusively. Effective June, the
move is the result of customer feedback, and an attempt to "simplify"
patron's decisions. This news closely follows Best Buy's decision to
also give the format the boot. Speculation has already surfaced that
suggests Toshiba will abandon their own format "in the coming weeks"...

So file all that HD-DVD software next to your Betamax tapes.  I actually preferred the HD-DVD format, but thought from the beginning that Blu-Ray's position in home gaming machines, which immediately gave them a huge installed based before any of us started buying High Def. movie players for our home theaters, might give it a lead that could not be overcome. 

Most consumers have just wanted the format wars to be over so they could pick the right player and software (I partially avoided this problem by buying a combo player).  This is an interesting consumer-friendly role for Wal-Mart that I have never seen discussed, that of standards-setter.

So here is a message to Blu-Ray:  Now that you are on the verge of victory, you need to clean up your own house.  The creeping standards problem you have had, which has caused early players to be unable to play newer disks, has got to end.  In particular, it is irritating not to be able to play a newer disk because the fancy multimedia menu won't work.  When when you learn that we aren't interested in all that crap and just want the movie to start?  Just because the technology says you can do that stuff does not mean that you should.

Update: Reuters with the same news, and a rumor that Toshiba has already shut down production line.


  1. Chris Fritz:

    I was rooting for HD-DVD for its lack of region encoding (I buy a lot of Asian DVDs, and have also bought Australian DVDs, and am considering buying a DVD release from either Australia or the UK since the US release was met with a two-year postponing because of Sci-Fi channel's copyright license holdings on the source material).

    But, I, too, knew the PS3 situation would make Blue Ray the winner in the end. Sony temporarily killed itself on pricing because it knew it would own the HD market in the long run.

    Well, that's life. I started buying DVDs only about four years ago and a DVD player for my PC only maybe three years ago. They'll have to let me know then there's an affordable Blue Ray player for my PC, and Linux-based software to let me get around any region encoding and DRM issues, then maybe whens something I want comes out exclusively on Blue Ray, I'll consider it. Because I adopted DVD so late in the game, I don't expect to be looking at Blue Ray (or HD-DVD were that the "winner") until at least 2012, or not 2015. I'll let everyone else be the early adopter beta testers in the meantime ;)

  2. Chris Fritz:

    Well, I'm about two years outdated. I just read that HD-DVD did add in support for region encoding, and Blue Ray has the regions lowered to three, combining American and Asian regions into one.

  3. HTRN:

    Sony basically bought this victory - until fairly recently, it looked like history would repeat itself(Every format Sony has ever introduced has failed misrably).. Well, this scared the crap out of them - they slashed the price of players by 200 bucks, cut the price of movies by 15% and basically bribed most of the major studios to stop making HD-DVD movies.

    They basically performed a corporate kneecapping to the format that the public for the most preferred.

  4. Rob:

    I've heard the PS3 termed the trojan horse of Blu-ray players :), a term that Mr. Coyote is fond of himself.

    I read many articles in the past about how the PS2 ushered in the era of DVD. From my own experience, the PS2 was my first DVD player back in college. Gaming was far more popular than sitting around watching a movie, but if your game machine can play movies, then people will start to buy those movies.

    There is a good chance that I will opt for a PS3 as my first Blu-ray player, because I gain the ability to game, unless the features of a standalone player are that much greater than those of a PS3.

  5. BobSykes:

    Well, I have a collection of devices going back to 45/33 vinyl, audio cassette, CD, VHS, DVD and Bluray, but no Betamax or CPM. There's still a bunch of LP's in a banker's box in the basement, but I'm slowly converting the cassettes and VHS tapes to digital.